Raiders' Hockey plays to the bitter end

By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Wed., Feb. 23, 2011
The Raiders clear the puck from in front of their goal, but the NWC Indians were able to get two in to win the game. Photos by Tom Phelan.
The Raiders clear the puck from in front of their goal, but the NWC Indians were able to get two in to win the game. Photos by Tom Phelan.

It might have been the pinnacle of a great season for Enfield High School hockey – the opportunity to play in a big-time arena, outdoors, in front of their fans, as a run-up to professional hockey on the weekend. But the Raiders’ game against division III Northwest Catholic on Friday, Feb. 18 turned out to be just the opposite.

Playing at Rentschler Field outdoors was a special venue and a special event in many ways. Not only were they playing on a major stage, the team had a visit from a special guest just before the game. Former Boston Bruin and Olympian Craig Janney addressed the Raiders before they took the ice, wishing them good fortune and urging them on to victory. Janney once wore the Raiders’ uniform. In fact, his #15 jersey was retired by Enfield High School that day, and a replica banner was hung behind the bench during the game.

For any game at all, but especially youth hockey, to be able to come out on ice like this, in a situation like this is pretty special,” Janney said after the first period. “Enfield’s going to come back,” the Raider alumnus predicted, although his optimism proved to be not enough. “We’re more worried about tomorrow’s game against Fermi,” he added with a smile. “That’s the one that really counts.”

We had our chances. We out-shot them,” said coach Joe Bonfiglio after the 2-0 loss. “I knew coming in that Northwest had some solid goaltending.”

The Raiders had trouble capitalizing on their opportunities, and failed to create traffic in front of the net. “That’s been the story of our season, really,” the coach said. He thought they didn’t skate well enough to win the game, and, at that point, they still needed three wins to get into the state tournament.

Bonfiglio said his team had been looking down the schedule to the game on the special outdoor ice all year. “They were excited about it, and looking forward to it all year. It didn’t hit them until they got here and saw the actual venue.”

Bonfiglio said he thought his team played a solid period of hockey after going down by a goal in the first. “There were loose pucks that we just didn’t battle for, and you can’t win a hockey game if you don’t win the one-on-one battles.”

I thought that man-for-man we were the better team, but we didn’t show it today. We didn’t prove it,” said Bonfiglio. “We missed the net a lot.”

Bonfiglio didn’t think the team was looking ahead to the cross-town rivalry game. “If anything, I thought these guys were more focused on tonight, and I thought that would help us going into tomorrow [against Fermi].”

The day after falling to NWC, Enfield took to the home ice against arch-rival Fermi, hoping to return to winning form, and with their eyes on a state tournament berth. The game was marked by a level of intensity not shown on the ice the day before. It looked as though the first period would end in a scoreless tie, but Fermi netted a goal with only 24 seconds left.

For most of the next two periods Enfield chased Fermi on the scoreboard, tying the Falcons, then dropping back one goal, then a second. In desperation, Enfield pulled their net-minder, and Max Groszyk brought the Raiders back to within a single goal. But there were only 35 seconds left in the game. Fermi pushed its fifth goal into an empty Enfield net just before time ran out.

A 7-2 loss to South Windsor two days later sealed their fate. It put the Raiders out of contention for a berth in the state tournament, leaving them with two more opportunities to lace up their skates, with only pride on the line.

Player to watch:

Bonfiglio singled out the play of sophomore Avery Boissy, who produced a solid effort game after game. “He never takes a shift off. He’s a hard worker and a good locker room guy,” said the coach. “We’ve counted on him all year.” He does everything a coach needs a player to do, according to Bonfiglio. “I don’t have to worry about him. There’s nothing I need to say to him to get him motivated.” In the loss to Northwest Catholic, the coach thought Boissy was the best player on the ice.

Remainder of the schedule:

Feb. 25 vs. Windsor-East Granby-Avon

Feb. 26 vs. North Branford


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